Friday, December 25, 2009

And things you never want to hear

I was conceived many years ago last night, or next Thursday: either Christmas or New Year's Eve of the year in question.
Why do I know this?
Lots of people know when their conception occurred, because a parent went away for business, were on leave from service, lots of reasons, some less pleasant than others.
Why do I know? I know because my parents felt the need to have an argument as to the exact date in my presence when I was ten years old, I believe it was Christmas Eve.

I then choose to believe that my parents only have sex on bank holidays.
"But Kinsey, you're sex positive, don't you want your parents (who are still together) to have a happy, fulfilling sex life?"
In theory, yes. Of course I do. I want my parents to have the marriage that they want to have, whatever that means, provided of course all things are safe and consensual. In reality, they're my parents. I don't want to think or know about them having sex. I think that's natural. Finding the idea of your parents getting down disgusting is a built-in safeguard against incest. Parent sex = gross = not having sex with your parents. I think the same basic principle applies to all close relatives.
There was a study in which men wore the same shirt for several days, with no fragrance or deodorant of any kind and those shirts were then smelled by different women. The scents that women rated the most appealing were those of the men with whom they shared the fewest genetic characteristics. Hybrid vigor, folks. Being the most attracted to the people the least like themselves decreases the likelihood of many genetic disorders- genes that make things go wrong have a harder time finding each other. An awesome argument for diversity and integration.

Better Left Unsaid:

Thank you notes which would be unwise actually to send:

Mere de Mon Amore, Cherie*,
Thanks for sending us home with those excellent cookies as well as the other fantastic leftovers from dinner this evening. The cookies made a really satisfying snack after the incredibly satisfying sex that I just had with your first-born.
Thanks a bundle.

Love, your child's partner.

*Dear the Mother of My Love

Friday, December 11, 2009

like a sex machine

I subscribe to fitness magazines. I found SELF immensely helpful after I graduated from college and was trying to make-over my life and body from the excesses and abuses to which I had been subjecting myself. I got a free subscription to Women's Health thanks to a fabulous eyeslipsface (e.l.f) offer - a free magazine subscription with orders over $20.00.
I'm generally pretty pleased with the attitudes that these publications take towards sex - its positive, and relatively open-minded, if a little heterosexist and not super inclusive. They promote healthy sexuality as part of over-all well being: sex is good for your health, and good health = good sex. I could have told you that, but its nice to see science backing it up.

There seems to be an assumption that sex is always available to women, and by implication that men are always up for (forgive the pun) and available for sex. There's this implicit idea that men's sex drives are always roaring full-blast, and that they'll be happy to service the needs of a woman whenever she feels like, as though they don't have bad days, headaches, deadlines, and are always in the mood. That's not fair to men or to women. It suggests that there's something wrong with a man who doesn't want to, or can't have sex all the time, and/or that there's something wrong with a woman if a man does not, or she can not make him want to have sex with her whenever she feels like it - that something is medically or emotionally the matter in either case.
Not being at the ready all the time is not the same as E.D.
Encouraging women to be open and unashamed of their sexuality is great, making them feel as though they're undesirable by this kind of thinking about sex is not. Maybe there ought to be more consideration in these articles of ways that women can take care of their own sexual needs and how to navigate that within their relationships, how to read their partner's sexual cues, or how to facilitate communication between partners about what makes them feel like its a good time or not.

Just my $.02

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In which I postulate once again on emptiness...

I'm doing research for my Buddhism in America final paper. I'm writing about women in Buddhism, surprise, surprise. The reading is bringing me back to some of the fundamental questions that I seem always to be asking myself in my line of scholarship about sex, gender, and Buddhism, such as:

1) How does one resolve the apparent contradictions between teachings on emptiness, and the traditional roles/rules for and about/emphasis on physical sex in Buddhism for both the lay and monastic communities?

2) Can a kind of Buddhist liberation theology for GLBTTIA folk be built around Mahayana Sutras in which the emptiness of form, and ergo gender are demonstrated in the change from female to male undergone by deities, Bodhisattvas, etc. ?

3) How can it be impressed upon people that emptiness does not mean that things aren't real in the conventional sense, and that they don't matter for that reason, but rather that because of their ultimate emptiness the immediacy of experience needs to be given its due weight in an attempt to understand and eliminate suffering? (in this instance, in the case of sexualities and gender identities)

I have heard it argued in several forums that if indeed form is empty, than there should be no need for people to undergo physical transition.
I have also read and heard various accounts of, and arguments for, the earlier/traditional rules and views in regard to sex and gender which disqualify gender variant and intersexed people from becoming monastics, and imply that they have a low birth as a result of bad karma, and that they need to work with what they've got and hope to do better next time.

On the first matter - see #3. I believe that the gender binary is a social construction and that its pretty much bullshit. I am also a realist. We live in society, and within the frameworks of its constructions whether we like it or not, therefore people need to do what they need to do in order to be as complete, happy, and fulfilled in the world in which they live, which includes transitioning. Just because something is not ultimately real doesn't mean that it does not immediately affect our qualities of life. We can't all just pretend to be advanced beings and as though our suffering doesn't exist because it lacks inherent nature.

On the second, that sucks. I understand that there is not a source of authority or power-structure in place to refute or repeal these rules, and I think that therefore the onus to do so is upon practitioners and scholars. As with any spiritual tradition, Buddhists need to take into account that some of the content of their spiritual texts is a result of the time and source of their authorship, and not necessarily part and parcel with the meaning of them, or ultimately part or in service of the Dharma.

Kinsey out.